Weekend Decorator

An Ingenious DIY for a Colorful Kitchen (No Paint Required)

An Ingenious DIY for a Colorful Kitchen (No Paint Required)
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Megan Pflug, style guru behind our “Weekend Decorator” column, is an editor and interior designer based in New York. She’s back with her latest crazy-cool DIY solution—this one to give your kitchen cabinets a colorful facelift without breaking out a paintbrush.

When a photo producer friend asked me for some design help with her tiny apartment kitchen, it all seemed simple enough for a weekend project. I was partially right. As soon as I stepped inside the kitchen, one of the biggest issues was obvious: The basic wood cabinets dominated (and cramped up) the already-small space. What I hadn’t anticipated, though, were the strict building codes I had to follow: My friend lives in a co-op, which means no painting and no major renovation updates are allowed.

With all that in mind, I had to get creative with my solutions for updating the cabinets—and the backsplash while I was at it— without a lick of paint. The answer to our design dilemma? Removable vinyl sheets. Read on for how I used them to give the kitchen a minty-fresh upgrade.

Here’s what you’ll need:

– Screwdriver
Removable vinyl (I used 2 rolls)
– Scissors
– X-acto knife
– Double-sided tape or removable glue dots
– Thick Mylar sheets large enough to cover the surface of your cabinet doors (optional)

For backsplash:

– Copper sheeting
– Copper nails
– A hammer

Getting Started

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of this  cabinet DIY, you need to remove all your kitchen cabinet doors and knobs with a screwdriver. Staying organized here will save you from mixing up all your doors when it’s time to reattach them. I marked down the position of each door on Post-its and applied them to the back of each door as reminders for myself. You’ll also want to find a clean, flat surface to work on this DIY.

Step 1: I applied double-sided tape (you can also use removable glue dots) around the face of the cabinet doors; this will help hold the Mylar sheets in place.

Step 1: I applied double-sided tape (you can also use removable glue dots) around the face of the cabinet doors; this will help hold the Mylar sheets in place.

Step 2: Next, I put a Mylar sheet over the surface of the cabinet door and smoothed it into place. The Mylar helps create a smooth front and conceals the trim on the existing cabinets.

Step 2: Next, I put a Mylar sheet over the surface of the cabinet door and smoothed it into place. The Mylar helps create a smooth front and conceals the trim on the existing cabinets.

Step 3: Use an X-acto knife to trim the excess Mylar around the edges so that it’s sized just right to cover the door.

Step 3: Use an X-acto knife to trim the excess Mylar around the edges so that it’s sized just right to cover the door.

Step 4: Cut a sheet of vinyl 3 inches larger than the cabinet door on each side. Then center the door on top of the vinyl (with the paper grid facing up), and cut slits in all four corners as pictured above. This helps to make clean corners when you fold the vinyl back.

Step 4: Cut a sheet of vinyl 3 inches larger than the cabinet door on each side. Then center the door on top of the vinyl (with the paper grid facing up), and cut slits in all four corners as pictured above. This helps to make clean corners when you fold the vinyl back.

A Word on Mylar

If your cabinet doors have insets on the fronts, the above Mylar trick is a great way to transform the look of them. And if you’re wary of wrapping your cabinets completely in vinyl, the Mylar sheet approach provides a firm backing for simply covering the surface with any fabric or decorative paper without tarnishing the wood underneath.

Step 5: Being careful to keep the cabinet centered on the vinyl, fold one end of the vinyl paper around the edge of the cabinet and crease it.

Step 5: Being careful to keep the cabinet centered on the vinyl, fold one end of the vinyl paper around the edge of the cabinet and crease it.

Step 6: Using the fold lines as a guide, lift the paper backing from the edge, then trim away the backing so that the cabinet door is exposed to the adhesive only on the back side.

Step 6: Using the fold lines as a guide, lift the paper backing from the edge, then trim away the backing so that the cabinet door is exposed to the adhesive only on the back side.

Step 7: It’s a lot simpler to leave the backing paper in place on the front and sides of the cabinet; it helps create a smooth surface and adds rigidity.

Step 7: It’s a lot simpler to leave the backing paper in place on the front and sides of the cabinet; it helps create a smooth surface and adds rigidity.

Step 8: Fold the adhesive backing of the vinyl onto your cabinet door to secure one side. You’ll be repeating this with each edge of every cabinet door (see below).

Step 8: Fold the adhesive backing of the vinyl onto your cabinet door to secure one side. You’ll be repeating this with each edge of every cabinet door (see below).

A Word on Trimming

Although it seems tedious, taking the time to trim all your corners carefully pays off in dividends at the end. Rather than think of it as simply smoothing out the back, which most people won’t see, making sure your adhesive is trimmed to attach flat on the back will also help keep the front of your cabinets looking smooth.

Step 9: With the removable vinyl folded flat against the back of the cabinet, snip the top flap of vinyl along the edge of the door, and fold the corners down.

Step 9: With the removable vinyl folded flat against the back of the cabinet, snip the top flap of vinyl along the edge of the door, and fold the corners down.

Step 10: Repeat this process on the opposite edge of the cabinet, folding, trimming, and smoothing the adhesive vinyl onto the back of the cabinet door.

Step 10: Repeat this process on the opposite edge of the cabinet, folding, trimming, and smoothing the adhesive vinyl onto the back of the cabinet door.

Step 11: To finish the long edges of the door, fold, trim, and smooth just as you did before. The only difference is that you won’t need to wrap the corners. If your hinges interfere with the process, first trim away a square of the vinyl to make space for the hinged spots. Fold the vinyl around the back just as did on all the previous sides.

Step 11: To finish the long edges of the door, fold, trim, and smooth just as you did before. The only difference is that you won’t need to wrap the corners. If your hinges interfere with the process, first trim away a square of the vinyl to make space for the hinged spots. Fold the vinyl around the back just as did on all the previous sides.

Step 12: If you are changing hardware, be sure to pick hardware that uses the same number of screws as your previous ones. To attach the new knob, use an X-acto knife to poke holes in the vinyl where the screw holes were, and attach the new hardware.

Step 12: If you are changing hardware, be sure to pick hardware that uses the same number of screws as your previous ones. To attach the new knob, use an X-acto knife to poke holes in the vinyl where the screw holes were, and attach the new hardware.

For the Glossy Backsplash

To bring in a little light and gleam, I opted for custom-cut copper sheets for the backsplash. I measured the wall surfaces I wanted to cover and then ordered pieces that were precut to size. I used one piece per wall along with one larger square that I positioned over the stove; to attach the sheets I used a few copper nails that will be easy to remove and simple to patch.

Check out the full kitchen makeover >

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